500.A15A5/812: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Bingham) to the Secretary of State

385. Your 280, July 25, 1 p.m. In an oral statement yesterday of his Government’s view regarding your inquiry Craigie stated:

(1) That the British Government do not regard the Japanese action in refusing to adhere to the treaty as necessarily carrying with it refusal to accept the qualitative stipulations of the treaty (article 4, paragraph 2) with respect to the calibre of guns on capital ships. The British feel that the Japanese cannot be presumed to have refused to accept the 14-inch limit unless they make declaration to that effect and this they are not obliged to do before April 1, 1937.

The Japanese note to the Foreign Office conveying their refusal to adhere to the London Naval Treaty 1936 contained the expression that the Japanese Government had no intention of acceding to the treaty “under the present conditions”. Craigie said that in a recent conversation with the Japanese Ambassador on the subject the latter pointed out and emphasized the words “under the present conditions”. Craigie did not, however, give the impression that the British hope for eventual Japanese adherence to the treaty.

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(2) Regarding the problem of ascertaining in fact what are the Japanese intentions in regard to the calibre of guns on capital ships, the British feel that, with so much time yet to elapse within which the Japanese may [agree] to the limit stipulated in article 4, paragraph 2, of the treaty, they are reluctant to press them now for an immediate declaration. On the other hand, if the Japanese have already decided to exceed the 14-inch limit it obviously is highly important for the signatories of the treaty to be appraised of this fact. The British, therefore, have requested their Ambassador at Tokyo for an expression of his views on the matter and he will probably be instructed to consult with the American Ambassador. The British Ambassador’s reply will be immediately communicated to the other signatories of the 1936 treaty.